Drone footage shot from above a Florida lake shows the moment a large alligator chomps on a man’s head. The victim somehow managed to survive the attack.
Juan Carlos La Verde can be seen swimming off a dock on Lake Thonotosassa with the huge alligator in his direct path, the video shows. After a few seconds, the man and vicious animal unexpectedly meet with a clear commotion occurring in the water.
Splashing can be seen from above as the 34-year-old attempts to reach shore, according to the footage.
La Verde, an ex-member of the United States Air Force Pararescue and local firefighter and paramedic, described the reptile as about 12 feet long.
“That thing wasn’t a little gator,” he told WFTS-TV Tampa recently. “It would be funny if it was a little gator”
“With the right stroke, all I felt was scales, teeth and then right there I’m like OK,” he also told the news outlet of the encounter. “So, what I think I did, what I felt like I did, was that I immediately tried to open its jaws because I knew I was in a gator.
“When I felt the teeth, I immediately knew, and then as I opened it I knew that I either turned it or it turned me, but it was confused just as I was confused, and then it just let go.”
La Verde found a way to swim to the dock and get himself out of the water before a Good Samaritan rushed him to the hospital. He even called 911 on his own to explain what happened.
La Verde had serious injuries to his face and head. He required six-hour surgery at Tampa General Hospital to repair and reconstruct damage to his skull and head, according to a GoFundMe set up for him.
The City of Oldsmar firefighter was filming a promotional video of himself swimming in the lake at the time of the attack as he was preparing for an upcoming race, the GoFundMe post details.
Despite the gruesome injuries, he said he was “perfectly fine.”
“I am actually even better because this gave me a new perspective, you know, and not many people get that,” he told WFTS.